how big is starfleet?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Gabriel, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Longinus

    Longinus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That must be the rationalisation afterwards, but I don't think that was the intention when the episode was written. The fleet was supposed to be a significant concentration of force, and the cube swatting it just like that was a huge shock. It kinda undermines the impact if this is not the case.
     
  2. Gabriel

    Gabriel Captain Captain

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    The cube swatting in 39 starships was a huge Shock in the sense that it was one against 39. But having 39 ships destroyed constituting a huge blow to the Federation fleet doesn’t seem realistic. I think in the end they were just shocked that 39 vessels cannot make a dent at it not that it was some big loss and would be crippled or something. Also I think the fact that many lives were lost contribute to the supposed big loss thing. The fact that they were able to supposedly rebuild 39 starships within a year supports the fact of a big fleet because the obvious have impressive shipyards or that in a post scarcity society they can build as many ships as they need, because Federation space is big and they need a lot of ships. Also after watching the episode recently nothing in their dialogue really suggest that 39 ships is a big thing. I mean JP Hanson said that’s just for starters. But you know what at the end of the day Star Trek it’s a franchise not just one series. Because of DS9 numbers TNG starfleet probably had a pretty big fleet, or at the very least many ships in mothball.
    And again that’s perfectly fine with me because I like the big fleet battles of DS9.
    And plus it makes no sense for a country as big as the Federation to have a small fleet. I mean they have to some way of protecting those colonies
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But none of this changes with DS9. No world has a fleet of ships guarding it, not even when Starfleet clusters itself into these fleets - indeed, it's a plot point that the fleet is elsewhere when the enemy comes. Earth is still only guarded by one starship. The heroes still arrive in the nick of time, alone. It still takes ages to summon help, and the help is assembled piecemeal, in penny packets of six or nine ships.

    The only thing that really changed with the move from TOS/TAS, the movies and TNG to DS9 was that we finally could see these ships everybody was always talking about anyway. But nothing suggests there would suddenly be more. They just happen to be all in the same place now. Meaning there are even fewer in other places!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  4. sumbuddyx

    sumbuddyx Captain Captain

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    I'm sure all these points may have been made but these are my immediate thoughts reading the thread title.
    • All those Federation fighter ships, like the runabouts, probably have their own registry. Do they count to the overall fleet sizes?
    • Starfleet in 2364 might have been much smaller, with a whole bunch of Mirandas and Excelsiors retired, save the ones we see during TNG. All the New Orleans, Cheyenne and Ambassador class type ships might have been sent into battle the Dominion first and got destroyed so all those Miranda and Excelsiors were reactivated, refurbished and rearmed, which is why we see so many in DS9 and why Starfleet seems bigger.
    • There was probably no exploration going on during the Dominion War and all those ships were pulled back to defend the Federation.
    • I love the idea of at the height of the Dominion War automated Starfleet factories just slapping together new starships non-stop, with bare bones necessities, no holodecks or any other rubbish, so maybe heaps of ships were built in much less time.
    • I always figured they never had many ships for planetary defense because they would have space stations and weapons arrays for that, kinda like what Chin'toka had. which we never really see but they had in the First Contact first draft and sounded dope.
     
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  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Other things typically mentioned in discussions like this:
    • Pulling back ships from exploration duties would nicely explain why Starfleet waited for two years to launch the war, even though sooner would appear to have been better from the strategic viewpoint otherwise.
    • We only ever saw one ship that was reputed to have been built during the war, the Sao Paulo.
    • No ship in the war sported a registry higher than the ones of prewar vessels. With the Sao Paulo, we of course couldn't tell because she (conveniently enough for the VFX people) got the Defiant registry.
    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  6. STR

    STR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's not the total available manpower, but an organizations ability to recruit, train, deploy, and manage to whole system effectively.

    The modern US military, which has over a million servicemembers already (and draws from a population of 300 million people), can only expand by ~50,000 people a year without sacrificing effectiveness. And the bulk of that expansion would be the army. The Navy, which has a lot of equipment constraints, can't absorb that many people that quickly.

    Mostly because they don't operate steel buckets with an engine and a couple turrets anymore. Everything is much more complicated and require the kind of hands-on education that you can't get on the civilian side unless you happen to be on the engineering team at the defense contractor that designed all of it.

    If you want to grow beyond your natural rate of expansion, you're sacrificing lives to the meat grinder.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Any field of life would have to get scaled up to the UFP level anyway, dealing with millions to cope with trillions. And Starfleet demonstrably copes, so it probably also deals. They simply teach big.

    Not that we'd have much evidence that Starfleet life would be more complicated than civilian stuff, in a world where everything is super high tech anyway. All we really can tell is that the Starfleet guys and gals in the spotlight are aces of all trades - is that common for UFP citizens, or special to a select few within Starfleet?

    But we do need a limiting factor in any case, since Starfleet is being limited. It fares relatively well in wartime, but in peacetime it is chronically short of ships, resulting in the well-known General Star Trek Plotline. What could be the bottleneck? Back in TOS, it might have been dilithium. In TNG, that supposedly goes away, though. As does the idea of funding as we know it (because "future economy") or raw materials of any sorts as we know it (because replicators). Building of ships shouldn't be that hard, either: if need be, ships can build ships, so the UFP could have an exponentially growing navy. So is it something operational? Could it be crews after all?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  8. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ship's are probably attached to a fleet for organizational purposes. I think Commodore Wesley might have been the head of the Enterprise's fleet. But the ships didn't usually operate in groups.
    That could have included ships that had already been under construction for months or years.
    Just because there was a tenth fleet, doesn't mean that there were nine others of lower numbering. The US Navy hasn't had a first fleet since 1973.
     
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  9. Gabriel

    Gabriel Captain Captain

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    And just because there is no evidence of a first fleet doesn’t mean there isn’t one
    But according to what we saw there is a 2,3,5,6,7,9,10, fleet. So at the least 7 fleets with a possibility of several more.
    Also in non-cannon there is also a 4th fleet, and 8th, 12th, and 22nd fleets
    Another good question how big are those fleets
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
  10. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Starfleet could have vast number of ships, but if the Federation is something like 8,000 light years across, its going to take a long time for most of those ships to reach any specific place in the Federation. Especially if a bunch of them are outside Federation space doing deep space exploration. Even the fast starships are suppose to take a year or so to cover that distance at maximum warp, and the others would probably take a few years at high cruising speeds. So after the Dominion first contact, and the war with the Klingons, Starfleet has been gathering ships from one side of the Federation to the other (or at least moving a large number of ships to positions where they can respond relatively quickly to threats coming from the Wormhole or Klingon Space). This happens to work out for them (slightly) when the second Borg Cube is spotted heading for Earth. Starfleet manages to gather a fleet of around 300 starships to intercept that cube, and do quite a bit of damage to it, and don't lose the entire force before they reach Earth. The surviving ships and others that couldn't make the intercept get redeployed to the Cardassian border over the next six months as the Dominion arrives, and the war begins. Other ships that had been deployed on the Klingon Border during the short war were also redeployed (along with the Klingon Defense Forces) to the now Dominion Border.
     
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  11. Ghost of the Navigator

    Ghost of the Navigator Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed. I doubt the BoBW writers were picturing ten thousand ships out there all unable to respond in time. Ships move at the speed of plot and cross half the federation in a few days when required.

    Starfleet wasn't crippled by the loss of 40 ships but it was an oh-shit moment that prompted them to take a new look at the threats out there. So I guess starfleet would be, I dunno (waves hands) 600 ships or something like that?
     
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  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I still think the exact opposite. The writers were free to write about millions of ships if they wanted; in "Redemption", they wrote about two dozen, had a graphic showing about a dozen, and only ever filmed four at a time. They didn't feel the need to listen to the VFX team that told them Starfleet could only ever have four ships.

    By those numbers, seeing the dozen or so distinct wrecks and bits of perhaps half a dozen more at Wolf 359 would translate to a fleet of a hundred ships, so them writing about mere forty was them being modest. But the story logic for forty being a low number was always there: if the pride of the fleet was giving desperate chase at maximum speed, obviously the rest of the fleet would struggle to make it to the rendezvous in time. And showing (or telling about) more would undermine the basic Trek premise that starships always arrive late, regardless of how many there are. Just like Kirk tended to be the second to any disaster scene, Riker here arrived after the fact. He'd look doubly as stupid if scores upon scores of other skippers got there before him, a writer concern not just "after the fact" but while compiling the writers' guide already.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Ghost of the Navigator

    Ghost of the Navigator Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You seem to be undermining your own point. The writers could throw in whatever number they want, okay... and they went for just 24?

    Well yeah another few hundred couldn't get there in time. We don't have to assume five thousand ships were plodding their way behind the speedy vanguard.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...And then followed that up with the Romulans going "Starfleet is sending 24 ships - why aren't they sending a fleet?". Little steps from the practical to the plausible: show four, display a dozen, speak of two dozen, and then establish that this is a fraction of the real deal.

    That's another general Trek given: reinforcements never involve the entirety of the force, quite plausibly because of the travel time issue. But individual ships still get to random locations at (or just after) the nick of time, which already tells us something about starship density. So the writers are free to do their usual thing and declare 39 ships a pittance easily dealt with, which they then do. :p

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  15. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Forty ships may be a drop in the bucket compared to the whole fleet, but if they average a crew complement of five hundred per ship, that's twenty-thousand souls lost in one event........... :(
     
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  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Except they apparently don't, because the only known survivors are Ben and Jake Sisko, and the explicit tally is 11,000 fallen. That's just 280 per lost ship. Did half the crews manage to escape without the TNG heroes learning this?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Gabriel

    Gabriel Captain Captain

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    that seems a little ridiculous considering how big the federation is
    Maybe add another zero
     
  18. Gabriel

    Gabriel Captain Captain

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    I think the lost at wolf 359 has to be people. Because while we don’t know how long enlisted courses are at the Academy the officer is four years. Which means to then replacing 11,000 personnel could take longer than replacing the ships. That could be why it was in a way a blow to them.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The 1980s fan work Ships of the Star Fleet went with a 1,600-ship fleet, a nod to the Reaganesque drive for a 600-ship USN. This would be just fine for the general TOS era where we don't run into particularly high registry numbers yet and see our heroes treat a thousand-lightyear distance as the far, far frontier.

    Replacing people in a hurry seems more doable than replacing ships in a hurry. Accelerating the building of ships might be difficult when we can't readily assume they are being built lazily in the first place; launching them only partially completed might not work very well in the case of starships. But training personnel only minimally at first, and reshuffling and promoting veterans from other assignments, should work smoothly enough.

    I doubt Shelby was talking about replacing the people, though. Without ships they would do little good, and training new people would not mean getting back the dead, so I can't connect this to her cheerful note.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Gabriel

    Gabriel Captain Captain

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    You can build ships faster but training people faster tends for them not be as well trained
    And plus in a post scarcity economy they should be able to build as many ships they need. Also people can serve at the ship yards building ships so I wouldn’t say the would do little good with out the ship. Remember it’s the crew that makes a ship.
    Fun fact: every time the navy commissions a ship one of the first orders to the new crew is to bring her to life.
    Maybe Shelby was just be optimistic or being a little over confident in her abilities
    Yeah 1,000 plus range is pretty good for tos.